March Update From Beverley

New appointment

We are very pleased to announce that Jennifer Gray began working on planning regional training activity this week. She will be coordinating training events throughout the year to respond to the training needs of our members. If you have got a training need, or if you would like to register the requirements of your local party, please send an email to training@wmlibdems.org with details of the training needs, individuals names and telephone numbers.

Training Events 

An exciting training event is on the way and will take place in Stratford. We shall confirm a date, time and venue details in due course, but we are expecting to offer a New Member Welcome Session, Assistant Returning Officer Training and Selection Committee Training alongside other sessions.  Lunch will be provided, and there will be something for everyone. 

Local elections

Nationally, we are seeing some astonishing successes at the local polls.  Some Lib Dems have won by a swing of over 40%!  Hundreds of seats are up for election on May 3rd this year, and local parties are hard at work designing and delivering leaflets, door knocking and making calls.  It’s all hands on deck, and offers of support are very warmly received.

If you are able to help, please do get in touch with your local party to find out which seats are being targeted – don’t underestimate the impact that you can have! 

Campaign events calendar

Check our new calendar to find out about campaigning events close to you http://www.wmlibdems.org/eventsor and contact events@wmlibdems.org to add your own local campaign events if they are not listed. 

Are you a Facebook user? Many local parties are advertising their campaigning events through local party groups so please get in touch and help where you can.

Not sure where to begin? No problem. Just contact Jennifer via training@wmlibdems.org and she will help to put you in touch with people who will be very grateful of your support. 

And finally, from me and all the exec we wish a very happy Easter.

Best regards,

Beverley Nielsen
Chair, West Midlands Liberal Democrats


Spring update from Beverley

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As Spring comes upon us again, (even if it does bring flurries of snow!) it’s great to see signs of a Liberal resurgence in these times of extremism and populism in politics.

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We’ve had some notable local election wins  in Minehead South (43.2% Gain from Independent), Marine (32.7% Gain from Conservatives) and Dawlish Central & North East (70.6% Gain from Conservatives) and we can look forward to continuing successes in Birmingham and across the West Midlands in the local elections in May. Before then we hope as many of you as possible are able to support Charles Robinson in the Blythe By-Election on 1st March.

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We are doing all we can to support upcoming local elections and if there are any events that you are running locally and wish us to support and promote for you please let Jordan Quinlan, our new Chair of Communications know so we can lend our weight to your efforts. We look forward to working together over the coming year and driving local election success for the West Midlands in 2018. Jordan has already started compiling a note of our Local Party Officers across the region so we can keep in touch more effectively.

jennifer_gray.jpgJennifer Grey (Vice Chair Urban) has developed a New Member Welcome Session to be launched shortly in Lichfield and she is also in the process of building a Social Media Training Guide. These both form part of a 2018 drive to focus on developing training opportunities to support our local and national candidates. Similarly we are keen to develop a schedule of visits by Vice Chairs (Jennifer GraySusan Juned), Executive Members (Hakil Ahmed, Phillip Bennion, Adam Fejfer, Richard Whelan, Waheed Rafiq) and I look forward to continuing to get out and about as much as possible and I am always happy to visit and speak with you. You can find the latest executive which includes elected members, co-opted member and supporters, below.

beverley_brexit_bus.jpgI was delighted to join the Brexit Bus in Birmingham as it stopped in Northfield on Monday 26th February on a very chilly morning.  A group of brave and dedicated souls gathered to hear speakers including Claire Fielden and myself as well as someone looking rather like Boris Johnson singing a cheerful ditty about his Brexit woes. The Brexit bus is emblazoned with the government's own cost of leaving the EU stated as being £2,000m per week and will be touring the country over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for it!

Throughout March there will be plenty going on with a whole host of events taking place across the region, from a chance to meet Layla Moran, 2nd March, (MP Oxford West and Abingdon) in Leamington Spa to a dinner date with Tom Blake, 11th March (MP for Carshalton & Wallington) in Worcester. There are also action days in Acocks Green on 10th March, Bromsgrove on 24th March and Politics and a Pint in Sutton Coldfield on 13th March. Lord Chris Fox, our Business Spokesperson, is in Birmingham on 15th March, 3-4.30pm. If you are interested to join this event please contact me on beverley@beverleynielsen.co.uk

The Regional AGM is planned to take place online this year, with votes closing on 20th October with our Regional Conference due to take place in November 2018 when our election results will be announced to those attending.

Best Regards,

Beverley Nielsen
Chair, West Midlands Liberal Democrats

 West Midlands Liberal Democrat Executive as of 27/02/18

  • President Baroness Burt
  • Chair of the Regional Party Beverley Nielsen
  • Vice-Chair (Rural) Susan Juned
  • Vice-Chair (Urban) Jennifer Gray
  • VC Strategy Richard Longman
  • Secretary Chloe Hughes-Cullinan
  • Treasurer Philip How
  • Chair Regional Candidates Committee Jock Gallagher
  • Chair Regional Policy Committee William McGrath
  • Chair Regional Conference Committee Vacant
  • Chair Campaigns Committee Richard Vos
  • Chair of Communications Jordan Quinlan
  • Ordinary Members
    • Hakil Ahmed
    • Phillip Bennion
    • Adam Fejfer
    • Richard Whelan
    • Waheed Rafiq
  • Young Liberals Regional Chair Owen Smith
  • Parliamentary Rep Ade Adeyemo
  • Councillor Rep Cllr Roger Harmer
  • Chair of Local Parties David Hartley
  • Regional Co-ordinator Izzy Knowles
  • Disabilities Carol Fletcher 
  • Chair of Fundraising John Kelly
  • Members responsible for:
    • Data and GDPR Adam Schemmanoff 
    • Newsline Editor Ted Logan 
    • Training Jennifer Gary
    • Diversities Waheed Rafiq
    • Equality Adam Fejfer

Season's Greetings from Beverley

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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

As another year draws to a close, I have been spending some time reflecting on the past twelve months and looking ahead to all that awaits us in 2018.

Read more

Vince Cable confirmed for Regional Conference

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The full line-up of speakers has been announced for the WMLD Regional Conference, 2017. These are:

  • Sir Graham Watson who will be speaking about Europe and answering your questions.
  • Zarah Sultana, Media and Parliamentary Office for MEND.
  • And Sir Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats!

Bookings can be made online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/westmidslibdems. Visit our website (www.wmlibdems.org/conference) and download the Conference Pack. Contact conference@wmlibdems.org directly if you have any questions or suggestions!


Vince: Three reasons to be optimistic

Sir Vince Cable, speaking on July 28 - in a room packed with West Midlands Lib Dems - in Birmingham City University’s Curzon Building (Birmingham Eastside), was warmly welcomed by the 150 members present.

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Photo Credit: A. Adeyemo

He spoke of three reasons why he was feeling optimistic as newly appointed Leader of the Lib Dems.

Firstly, there was ayawning gap’ in the centre ground of British politics – with the Conservative Party under the thumb of the ‘Brexit zealots’ and having forged the alliance with the DUP they had wiped out all the work of Cameron to ‘detoxify the Tories’.

The Labour Party on the other hand, undoubtedly resurgent, (‘we all underestimated them’), were under the control of the hard left and much further to the left than in the era of Michael Foot. Labour Party thinking today was, ‘closer to the Bolivarian Party in Venezuela’. And both parties were, together, committed to an extreme Brexit in an ‘Unholy Alliance’.

“The Labour Party under Corbyn succeeded in attracting large numbers of idealistic young people,” said Vince, “They seduced by the abolition of student debt which they have since abandoned. This is the third time the Labour Party have done a U-Turn and it is the most cynical and the most blatant. They are now firmly under the control of Momentum. This leaves open the middle ground providing an opportunity for us to re-emerge.”

The Second issue was the EU. People hadn’t bought the second referendum as it was still too early in the process. “It’s beginning to happen,” Vince stated, “and will cement our position on what’s right and rationale in the EU. It will happen gradually, it will happen in a manner of ‘slowly rolling in’.”

Living standards were already compressed because of the devalued pound with the consumer feeling this in weekly purchases and other ways. The splurge of consumer credit was unsustainable and investment had largely stalled.

“People will start getting angry and disillusioned. As Brexit starts getting momentum people will being to understand the sheer complexity of what we have embarked upon.”

This could be illustrated by the debate on Euratom. “We need to keep Britain at the forefront of nuclear isotopes, nuclear fusion but all this activity is ruled by the European Court of Justice. Given the government’s line on the sovereignty of our own parliament and not wanting to be subject to the ECJ, this is now crumbling with the whole edifice having to be rebuilt. But this is just about 1% of what is being realigned through Brexit”, said Vince.

Civil Aviation was another area. “The whole basis on which the aviation industry functions, the safety, air traffic, consumer protection, all this is determined by EU Treaties. All this has to be renegotiated within a new framework.  It’s an almighty bloody mess!  Philip Hammond was saying we know it’s going to be a mess. But by proposing a further two year period before any change he is simply postponing the car crash. The more people become aware of it the more they will become attracted to our approach.  We need to stay in the Single Market, stay in the Customs Union, we need access to collaborative research and to maintain the environmental standards. If at the end of the process we lose those then the public have the right to a vote.”

The third reason concerned economic policy.  “Whether we like them or not the leading Tory and Labour party members of the recent past had been economic literati. They understood why the economy needed to be well run. In recent months this has gone out of the window. The Tories had no numbers in their Manifesto – as one person gibed, ‘the only numbers in it were the page numbers’. The Labour Party did have numbers in their Manifesto but they didn’t add up. The IFS and the Economist had chosen the Lib Dems as the only people who understood why sensible economics mattered and continues to matter. We need to fund our public services; we need to have the private and public services working together.

Prime Minister in waiting

“I present myself today as an opposition Prime Minister…and given the opposition I think that is a very credible position. I am not here speaking for a ‘plucky 3rd Party’ that wants to gain a few seats. I didn’t come into Politics to be a moderate, sensible person able to deal in numbers and Balance Sheets operating at the margin. I came into politics to really make a difference. I have a soul as well as a brain.

“Most of you joined because you care about things. One of those things is rising inequality. We have inequality of the classes, between generations and between regions. We do not so much have an inequality of income but we have a real inequality of wealth. If we are serious about fairness then we must do this through tax. Inequality of generations is very significant. If you are a teenager today then you are likely to be poorer than your parents because house prices are out of control and you won’t be able to buy or to rent.

Points of differentiation

“This is an aspect of differentiation for our Party. So is education. Students rallied around Corbyn who captured their imagination. We made a big mistake in promising something we could not deliver. The truth is that although what we did was terrible politics it was sensible. Students don’t pay to go to university, they pay a form of graduate tax. Working classes are going to university but no one is listening. We do need to take a fresh look at how university students are funded. Not through pathetic populism but through a more genuine form of graduate tax and through maintenance payments abandoned by the Tories. We must also not forget about the 60% of young people going to Further Education. They matter – a great deal in fact with Brexit.

“This is your party – I’m just the Leader. I’d like to see the implementation of a Learning Account for young people to choose and decide how best to use it for themselves for their start in life. This would be a positive, visionary approach. It would fire the imagination.

Concluding thought: the alternative PM

“I’d like to finish with one thought. We are credible as a political force. This is why I emphasise my pitch as an alternative Prime Minister. We need to regain our place in local government and to start winning more Parliamentary seats again.  We will only do this if you are mobilised. We need more focus on technical side, on social and conventional media, and on communications of every type, if we are to make the comeback that I believe is possible.”

You can read Beverley Nielsen's thoughts on Vince's visit on her website.


Birmingham must not be hit by Brexit financial woes

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Commenting on reports that London could lose it's EU clearing role, and the continuing rise in inflation, Lee Dargue, LibDem Parliamentary Spokesperson for Birmingham Ladywood, said:

"We see business beginning to relocate out of Britain to maintain EU in preparation for our exit. Now the Tory and Labour pursuit of Brexit-at-all-costs is beginning to hit the financial sector.

"In Ladywood, we are really excited to have HSBC relocation it's customer banking operation from London, to the heart of the great city of Birmingham. Further financial woes could put future prospects at risk. "It's welcome news to hear France and Germany stand ready to support the UK should realise they need a change of heart.

"We also see inflation rising, again, as the pound stays low in value - meaning people are being pressed with further rises in costs for food and clothes. We must have financial security to stop this getting worse - and so it's vital all parties work together to stop this from happening"


A crash in Nurse applications shows how much we rely on EU citizens.

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Commenting on the alarming figures in nurses from EU countries registering to work in the UK, Liberal Democrat West Midlands Health Spokesperson, and Lee Dargue, said:
 
“Time and again we were told impacts to our local services would happen, over fears of Brexit, were scare-mongering. We see, again, that it wasn’t project fear – but project fact.

“I agree with those who say we shouldn’t just focus on EU applications for NHS staff – but I have never called for that. I have called for ensuring our NHS gets the staff and the funding it needs to not only operate but to answer the growing needs it has.

“So it is a shame that Labour remain wedded to the Tories for a Hard Brexit, and in doing so seeking to damage both the ability to properly staff and properly fund our NHS. Representing Ladywood, I know how damaging this could be to Birmingham City Hospital

“We can start to improve this situation, by having EU citizens living here having their status protected. This relies on the Tories changing their heartless opposition to this, and Labour actually being an official opposition to the government.”


GE2017: A message from Beverley

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Dear Members,

Thank you and a huge well done to all our Lib Dem candidates in the West Midlands flying the flag for an open, tolerant, fair society and full access to the Single Market.
You worked and fought hard - from all of us on the Lib Dem West Midlands Executive our very sincere thanks.

We also owe a great deal of thanks to our activists, campaigners, canvassers and agents who supported our candidates through this busy time. The impact we have made would not be as great without the time, effort and money you graciously gave.

We are clearly in turbulent times and uncharted waters. We had some great gains but lost some good friends, notably in Nick Clegg....

And in the West Midlands we are so sorry we did not win back either Yardley or Solihull, despite all the hard work and dedication of many people. For every one of our candidates to lose was a hard blow, especially when we know what you put into contesting these seats.

However, as we know, much can happen in a week in politics... and who knows what the next few months will bring....We need to keep our chins up and keep fighting for our heartfelt beliefs and values.

Take care and we send all very best wishes. We look forward to keeping in touch and working to drive forward Lib Dem values in the West Midlands and beyond.

Yours very sincerely,

Beverley Nielen
Chair
West Midlands Liberal Democrats


Liberal Democrats are honest about NHS and Care funding – we’d give it an extra £6bn a year

Speaking on the announcement, that the Liberal Democrats would ensure an extra £6bn per year for the NHS and Social Care, Health Spokesperson Lee Dargue commented:

“We hear empty words on Health and Care funding from Theresa May. The Conservatives are happy to drive us towards a Brexit cliff-edge to sound tough on EU negotiations, because they haven’t a clue how to proceed.The NHS and Social Care needs proper funding, abut you can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong economy.

“Labour are constantly spending the same money, on different policies, leading to the shambolic position where their own front-bench no longer knows where they are getting money from. You can’t trust Labour with NHS.

Speaking on the policy to spend an extra penny in the pound on NHS and Social Care, Lee said:

“It’s always asked of politicians to be honest and I’m proud that the Lib Dems are being honest, and on the most important of areas – to ensure mental health, social care and our treasured NHS gets the funding it deserves.

“Repeated polls show people are prepared to pay a little more to protect our vital health and care services, and we are focusing on areas including mental health, public health social care and our amazing GPs. Money alone won’t solve the problem, but money is needed to protect our services, and make improvements.”

Lee finished by adding: “Liberals invented the NHS, and only Liberal Democrats can protect it.”


Only the Liberal Democrats are serious about supporting those with mental health needs.

Pulse, the GP publication, has investigated funding for Mental Health services in 2017/18 and found several areas in England are due to be hit, in total, by £35million of cuts. Walsall CCG is included.

Responding to this report, Lee Dargue, West Midlands LibDem spokesperson on Health, reacted angrily “The stigma against mental health is something Liberal Democrats proudly started to tackle in government. However, CCGs in Walsall are now having to cut their mental health service provision, due to Tory-led demands on cuts”.

Lee further added “Enough is enough. The scandalous lack of equal treatment between physical and mental health cannot go on any further. It’s clear that the Tories can’t be trusted on mental health funding, especially for young people where they aren’t even meeting their own funding requirements because of the crisis in NHS funding”1.

Lee finally said “And as for Jeremy Corbyn championing mental health – shouting so through a megaphone does nothing to help those in need. We need to have an effective opposition, as wekk as an honest debate about raising taxes to support the NHS and its services the Liberal Democrats are the only party offering both.” 


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